Peristyle, New Orleans

Age: 31

background: Trained at the Cincinnati Culinary Arts Academy. Worked at Grammars, Cincinnati.

How she got into cooking: "My mom went back to work when I was 14, so I started helping out with preparing the family dinners."

First food memory: "My mom's apple dumplings with warm milk-- I'd request them on my birthday."

How she ended up in New Orleans: "I went down for Mardi Gras, then found a job and never looked back. It's a common New Orleans story."

Mentor: John Neal at Peristyle, a 1995 F&W Best New Chef, who died soon after he won the award.

Ingredient pick: Fennel. "My waiters even joke about it."

Favorite equipment: A long-handled sauce whisk.

Favorite cookbook: Baking with Julia Child (/sites/default/files/orrow)."She's flawless."

What she'd do if she weren't a chef: Be a professional gardener.

Favorite 1 A.M. meal: Triscuits. "If you're a chef cooking 60 hours a week, you just can't keep perishable foods in your refrigerator."

Food vice: French fries.

Recipe tip: When chicken stuffing will go under the skin, chill the stuffing first; it will be easier to handle and won't expand in the oven.

Info: 1041 Dumaine St.; 504-593-9535.

    By Kate Krader and Monica F. Forrestall